West Fertilizer: Sen. Barbara Boxer To Hold Hearing Next Week

Sen. Barbara Boxer announced Wednesday that she will hold a hearing next week on the fertilizer plant blast in West that killed 15 people, flattened homes and heavily damaged schools.

“This is going to be very interesting. We’ll find out why they think this happened,” said Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.

Boxer said it’s too soon to know if new legislation is needed to prevent similar tragedies. She is reviewing reports to the committee from the EPA and the Chemical Safety Board, an independent agency that investigates industrial incidents.

The Senate hearing, set for June 27, will look at the events leading up to the April 17 blast in West and a June 13 explosion at a chemical plant in Geismar, LA, that killed two workers and injured more than 100 others.

Taken together, Boxer said, the incidents suggest a need to review national standards for the storage and handling of dangerous chemicals.

“I honestly haven’t sat down to analyze every single thing the EPA and chemical board said. That’s my weekend reading,” she said. “This is going to be a time for all of us to find out why they think this happened, the experts who went out there and were actually in the field … and what things could be corrected.”

The Chemical Safety Board complained last month to Boxer that the Texas fire marshal and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had impeded its investigation into the causes of the blast.

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